How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay
Advice to survive Financially while waiting for a disability approval
The majority of applicants for Social Security Disability benefits and SSI disability benefits experience extreme financial duress while waiting to receive a decision on a disability claim.
Why do claimants experience such duress? Because the disability process is very long. Typically, an initial claim, or application, will take 3-4 months on average (though it can easily take longer).
However, that's not where the real wait comes in. Seventy percent of all disability claims filed with the social security administration are denied. Of those claimants who are denied, some choose to file a brand new disability application, meaning that they will likely have to wait several more weeks or months to receive another decision (filing a new application is generally not a wise choice).
For those who choose to appeal a disability denial, this will usually mean filing a request for reconsideration, which will take several months, and then requesting a disability hearing, since most reconsiderations are also denied. The hearing request, of course, will take many months, and sometimes as long as one to two years.
Given the time considerations of applying for SSD or SSI benefits, it's fairly obvious that surviving the process is a legitimate concern. In working with claimants over several years, I was regularly aware of situations in which claimants were in danger of being evicted from their homes, having homes foreclosed on, did not have access to proper medical care and needed medications, and could not afford to pay for utilities or food.
If you are filing for disability and are experiencing any of these difficulties you may wish to consider the following:
1. Check with your local social services department for utility assistance. The LIEAP program (low income energy assistance program) may be able to provide help with your heating bill in the winter. Also, some social services departments will also offer one-time assistance on a utility bill at times other than winter.
2. If you need medications and do not have health coverage, check with an adult services caseworker at social services to see if any church or charitable organizations are offering limited assistance with paying for prescriptions. In addition to being a former disability examiner, I was also a caseworker and my DSS (department of social services) did have organizations to refer people to if they were in need of prescription assistance. Also, at the time I was working as a medicaid caseworker, an individual could file for medicaid (based on disability) and even if the medicaid application was later denied, the individual could still receive medication assistance while their medicaid claim was being processed. This may not be the case with every county DSS, but it is certainly worth checking into.
3. File for any benefits for which you potentially might be eligible. And do this with the understanding that you need to utilize every possible resource to maximize your chances of getting through the disability process. This, of course, includes filing for food stamps (I was also a food stamp caseworker). Also, you may wish to file for either public housing assistance or section 8 housing assistance. Typically, the wait for housing assistance is very long, so it will definitely be in your best interests to do this sooner versus later.
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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.